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Sister of Quebec media baron Pierre Karl Péladeau dies after car crash

Isabelle Péladeau, the sister of Pierre Karl Peladeau, the former president and CEO of media giant Quebecor, died in a car accident north of Montreal Saturday night.

Quebecor/La Presse

She didn't have the visibility of her brothers and sister but like them, Isabelle Péladeau grew up in the shadow of their formidable media baron father and had to learn to carve her own path in life.

Ms. Péladeau, the eldest daughter of Quebecor Inc. founder Pierre Péladeau, died in a freak accident Saturday evening after the car in which she and her husband were riding slipped on an icy road as they were to enter their Laurentian cottage and plunged into a lake.

A 55-year-old mother of two, Ms. Péladeau had long been involved in the family company and once was vice-president in charge of Quebecor's magazine division. But her thirst for a business career waned and she left Quebecor in 2000.

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She was one of the four children from Mr. Péladeau's first marriage.

Her eldest brother, Érik, 68, was also a high-ranking Quebecor executive but is known as a self-effacing man. So it was the third child, the charismatic, hard-charging 52-year-old Pierre-Karl who took the reins of the family business.

Even though he stepped down as CEO last spring, Pierre-Karl remains an influential entrepreneur, as Hydro-Québec chairman and because of his connections both to the Parti Québécois and his friendship with former prime minister Brian Mulroney.

The youngest of the four siblings, Anne-Marie, made her own headlines because of her long struggle with drug addiction.

Their father was a self-made tabloid king who was known for his love of Beethoven, his mercurial personality and his tumultuous family life.

His first wife, Raymonde Chopin, died at 47 in a private Swiss clinic. A second marriage, to Line Parisien, resulted in two more children, Esther and Simon-Pierre. A seventh child, Jean, was born in a common-law union with Manon Blanchette.

Just before their father's death, Érik was involved with Quebecor's multimedia unit while Pierre-Karl was in charge of European commercial printing operations.

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Isabelle had been working with Quebecor since she was 20. She had expanded Quebecor into magazine publishing with the launch of "Filles d'aujourd'hui" in 1980 and became vice-president of the magazine division in 1994.

But even though she was the only one of the siblings to be involved in the company's original activity, publishing, her father told the Globe and Mail, in an interview the year before he died, that she wouldn't be a contender to replace him because of her lack of interest in the business.

"In a couple of years, it could be different," he predicted.

Instead, in the years following his 1997 death, Isabelle dedicated herself instead to raising her children and look after philanthropic projects.

Police say Isabelle was a passenger in the car when the driver lost control late Saturday afternoon in Saint-Hippolyte, north of Montreal, as they were trying to enter their cottage in slippery conditions. According to Quebecor media reports, the driver was her spouse, Roger Humbert.

The vehicle plunged into Lake Achigan and she drowned. She is survived by Mr. Humbert and Félix and Alexis, her two sons from her previous union with Jean Langevin.

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In a statement, Quebecor said the family wouldn't comment publicly but on her Facebook page, Pierre-Karl's wife, the TV host Julie Snyder, thanked well-wishers.

"We haven't slept last night, we are still all stunned and under the shock of this terrible news," Ms. Snyder wrote.

In an interview with Canadian Press, a friend, Sophie Stanké, alluded to the burden that Isabelle carried, having a famous family name.

"Of course she had a lot of admiration for her dad but she found it hard to be the daughter of Pierre Péladeau. We talked about it both, having to establish your own name. She was someone who was both solid and sensitive."

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About the Author
National reporter

Tu Thanh Ha is based in Toronto and writes frequently about judicial, political and security issues. He spent 12 years as a correspondent for the Globe and Mail in Montreal, reporting on Quebec politics, organized crime, terror suspects, space flights and native issues. More


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